Monday, May 5, 2014

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

Everyone loves quinoa, right? Wrong.

For a very long time I regarded quinoa with a healthy dose of disdain, and believed that its only purpose on this earth was to be health food, not delicious, desirable food.

Then, one day last month I was wandering around DC on an unseasonably frigid day trying to find some lunch, and on a whim I ordered a bowl of turkey chili served atop quinoa from a place near my office. It was shockingly delicious, so I acquiesced and said something that I rarely admit: I was wrong. Quinoa is delicious as long as it's mixed with with stuff like chili, or in this case, tomato sauce, basil, and loads of cheese.

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

I made this for lunch yesterday, and it was so good we already added it to the dinner menu for this week. It's fast, easy, and fairly healthy - everything I look for in a weeknight dinner.

I served this as a main course, but I think it would make a great side dish to some grilled chicken breasts. If you want to bulk it up with some meat, I bet cooked Italian sausage would be a great addition (add it in when mixing up the sauce!)

For my fellow quinoa skeptics out there, give this recipe a chance. For non-quinoa skeptics, well, you were right. Gloat away.

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup pasta sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided (I used reduced-fat, and this still tasted great)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (leave a few intact to top the quinoa with)
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray, and set aside.

Combine the pasta sauce and tomato paste in a saucepan over low heat, and cook until warm. Add in the half and half, parmesan, half the mozzarella, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and mix in the halved tomatoes, sliced basil leaves, and cooked quinoa.

Pour the quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with the remaining mozzarella and the intact grape tomatoes. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then turn the broiler on and broil for 1-2 minutes until the cheese starts to brown and the grape tomatoes shrivel.

Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side.

Source: Adapted from Half Baked Harvest, who was originally inspired by How Sweet Eats


  1. Josh is another "ewww quinoa" hold out. I haven't ever been able to convert him, but if someone can sway you I have hope for him! This sounds delish.

    1. Fingers crossed you can sway him! I'm officially a convert :)

  2. I wasn't a fan of quinoa for a long time either...then I realized I needed to rinse it first. Game changer. This looks so good!

  3. My husband really dislikes quinoa too, I love the stuff though. I've not used in this way before, maybe this will win the husband over!

  4. So glad you're quasi-back! (Or...back?) And so glad for this recipe, it totally made my day. (As a vegetarian constantly in search of protein, I've always been team quinoa).

  5. I love adding quinoa to soups or chili. It has more of a crunchy texture than noodles or rice. I have been thinking aboiut this dish all week. I am going to make it tomorrow for dinner! Can't beat anything caprese.

  6. Quinoa lovers and haters unite! This is a yummy dish for all. :)

  7. I'm one of those people who sometimes likes quinoa and sometimes I'm like...ughh so bad, want. hamburger. now. But this looks SO good (cheese makes everything instantly better, right?), I'm definitely going to have to give it a shot this weekend!

  8. I am not a huge quinoa fan when it is all on it's own. However, I love it in recipes like this! I can't wait to try this soon!

  9. Holy yummy, creamy caprese-ness! I can't get enough of caprese in the summer, and I love your scrumptious baked twist on it!

  10. It took me a hot minute to warm up to quinoa too! I've only made one quinoa bake and LOVED it, so this creamy caprese one is calling my name. I had seen it on HBH a while back and had been meaning to try it, so I'll have to give your version a go ASAP! Hope your weekend is going well!


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